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Biometrics has everyone concerned about security, and privacy. The use of this method opens the door to the abuse of this technology on several levels. Biometrics refers to the metrics of human characteristics, these characteristics belong exclusively to you and no one else. Put simply, biometrics is a process used to identify or verify a person’s identity using physical or behavioral traits. Biometric identifiers are distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Some types of biometrics include but are not limited to DNA matching, Eyes (both iris and retina) Recognition, Fingerprints, Odor, Signature, Etc. The advantage to using this technology is that your some of your characteristics don’t change, and they follow you everywhere. Not to mention it’s difficult to forge or fake and in some cases almost impossible. Biometrics have been used throughout history, one of the more recent examples would be an Englishman named Edward Henry in 1900 when he used fingerprints to classify and identify criminals. Due to the September 11th terrorist attacks this technology has become increasingly more popular with the government. Biometric methods are not all foolproof, but because of this vulnerability there is always a threat of someone impersonating or stealing their identity. Due to its uniqueness, it is suppossedlly accurate. The government uses facial recognition to help catch criminals. The main concern would be how this is violating someone’s First Amendment Right. Another concern is that facial recognition has a higher rate of error. This is because of how easy it is to change one’s appearance, some examples would be weight loss, color contacts, facial reconstruction, hair color changes, tattoos, etc. Which means people could be accused of a crime they did not commit due to the simple fact of share similar looks. Due to the high rate of errors in the facial recognition software the court alone will not pursue charges unless there is multiple biometric identifiers matching a single individual. TSA is trying to implement “Full Body Scanners” into airports for international travelers. Since TSA confirmed that naked digital photos of an individual can be stored and shared this is considered a civil liberties violation. These scanners seem all great but in reality the full body scanners cannot detect plastics or chemicals, so they provide no safety from liquid bombers. Also due to the fact that pictures can be stored and shared individuals under the age of 18 cannot use these scanners due to the breach in child pornography laws. But it makes you wonder why these scanners were even installed in the first place. There are three categories of privacy concerns, which are as follows; unintended functional scope, which means the authentication goes further than just authentication, such as finding a tumor when only given permission to find a blood type. The authentication process that correctly identifies the subject when the subject did not wish to be identified is called unintended application scope. Covert Identification is when the subject is identified without seeking identification or authentication, i.e. a subject’s face is identified in a crowd using facial recognition. Biometric authentication is a process where a person’s biometric traits are compared to a stored template of that person. Biometric identification raises a lot of ethical issues, mostly centered on the concept of privacy. One is that, say a stalker or a government agency will legitimately gain access to information about you and utilize it to harass or harm you. A second is that information you provide for a particular purpose will be retrieved or purchased perhaps to be correlated with other information, and used for purposes that you would not have predicted or agreed to happen. A third kind of concern is that the data will be stolen or illegally released, exposing you to risk, embarrassment or other types of harm. For example, during super bowl XXXV, fans faces were scanned and compared to mug shots of known criminals. In this case the scanning wasn’t just the problem, but the fact it was done without the knowledge of the public, whether it was done for their protection or not. According to Richard Norton, “The real perception problems come from passive technologies that can be used without public knowledge. We haven’t seen any backlash over the public hysteria but we need to make sure this technology isn’t abused. If it is, the public will lose their confidence completely.” Security systems that scan and compare data can give false positives and false negative readings. If there is a system breakdown which would be caused by failing sensors that scan. This could result in a valid person being denied access through the system or even giving permission to someone who should not be allowed. Even through using biometric technology is considered to be an effective measure for security and protection against crime, there is concern that it violates the privacy and personal rights of the public. These issues include the possibility of fraud, identity theft, civil liberty violations and inaccuracy of information that could result in being accused of a crime or become a victim of discrimination. If used correctly, biometrics could help protect against identity theft, fraud, and terrorism. But the potential for misuse is glaringly obvious. It raises questions about how the biometric data is being stored. Among other things Legislation should limit the amount and type of data that the government can store and where it is stored. They should restrict the collection of different types of data into a single database.

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